Easynet sees fruits of unbundling labours

The telco is claiming to be the only effective participant in the UK's local-loop unbundling process

Easynet Group announced on Wednesday that it has achieved strong take-up of its high-speed Internet products, and claimed to be leading the way in Britain's local-loop unbundling (LLU) process.

As of 31 August, the telco has signed up 854 business customers for its "own loop" DSL services, which -- unlike other ISPs' products -- are based on its own wholesale product rather than BT Wholesale's DSL packages. This is a 122 percent increase in customer numbers in just two months, Easynet said, and follows the introduction of its 4-megabit (Mb) and 8Mb ADSL products.

Easynet now offers unbundled DSL products from 71 of BT's local telephone exchanges, in Greater London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Brighton, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It claims to be on target to cover a total of 80 exchanges by the end of the 2002, and plans to reach up to another 100 exchanges within the next 18 months.

Keith Todd, chairman of Easynet Group, said that the firm was seeing positive trends in the local-loop unbundling scene.

"This has been an exciting time for the Group as the roll-out of our 'own loop' DSL services is now generating real momentum, making us the only effective participant in the high profile area of Local Loop Unbundling," Todd said in a statement announcing the telco's interim financial results for the six months ending 30 June, 2002.

David Rowe, Easynet's chief executive officer, added that the firm was seeing an increase in its average revenue per user as customers signed up for the high-end LLU products, such as the 4Mb and 8Mb ADSL services, that it offered from its 71 unbundled exchanges.

"Going forward prospects remain good, with the roll-out of Easynet 'own loop' services on schedule and a strong pipeline of demand for business DSL," said Rowe.

Local-loop unbundling is a process designed to give telecoms operators access to the network infrastructure of incumbent telcos such as BT. Across Europe, LLU has been dogged by controversy and conflict, with incumbents repeatedly accused of obstructing the process in an attempt to maintain their grip on the wholesale telecoms market.

In the UK, BT has opened up all its exchanges for LLU, meaning that an operator such as Easynet can pay to have its own equipment installed in the exchange -- allowing it to provide its own wholesale products.

Easynet's retail arm currently sells its wholesale products -- such as the 4Mb and 8Mb ADSL packages -- but in theory they could also be sold by another ISP, in the same way that ISPs resell BT Wholesale's business and consumer broadband products as their own packages.

Although many companies have dropped out of the UK's LLU process, around 10 are still involved, including Bulldog, Kingston Communications and Fibernet.

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